Hard — Leetcode problem

Given a non-empty binary tree, find the maximum path sum.

For this problem, a path is defined as any node sequence from some starting node to any node in the tree along the parent-child connections. The path must contain at least one node and does not need to go through the root.

Example 1:

Example 2:


  • The number of nodes in the tree is in the range [0, 3 * 104].
  • -1000 <= Node.val <= 1000

Solution :

HInts : kandane’s algorithm and also recursive nature of BST.

Approach 1: Recursion


First of all, let’s simplify the problem and implement a function max_gain(node) which takes a node as an argument and computes a maximum contribution that this node and one/zero of its subtrees could add.

In other words, it’s a maximum gain one could have including the node (and maybe one of its subtrees) into the path.

Hence if one would know for sure that the max path contains root, the problem would be solved as max_gain(root). Unfortunately, the max path does not need to go through the root, and here is an example of such a tree

That means one needs to modify the above function and to check at each step what is better : to continue the current path or to start a new path with the current node as a highest node in this new path.


Now everything is ready to write down an algorithm.

  • Initiate max_sum as the smallest possible integer and call max_gain(node = root).
  • Implement max_gain(node) with a check to continue the old path or to start a new path:
  • 1. Base case : if node is null, the max gain is 0.
  • 2. Call max_gain recursively for the node children to compute max gain from the left and right subtrees : left_gain = max(max_gain(node.left), 0) and
    right_gain = max(max_gain(node.right), 0).
  • 3. Now check to continue the old path or to start a new path. To start a new path would cost price_newpath = node.val + left_gain + right_gain. Update max_sumif it's better to start a new path.
  • 4. For the recursion return the max gain the node and one/zero of its subtrees could add to the current path : node.val + max(left_gain, right_gain).

Tree Node

Here is the definition of the TreeNode which we would use in the following implementation.


Notice that we are looking at a path from 15-> 20 -> 7 , which is an arc kind of path not seen before.

Link : https://leetcode.com/problems/binary-tree-maximum-path-sum/solution/

Complexity Analysis

  • Time complexity: O(N), where N is number of nodes, since we visit each node not more than 2 times.
  • Space complexity: O(H), where H is a tree height, to keep the recursion stack. In the average case of balanced tree, the tree height H=log⁡N, H=logN, in the worst case of skewed tree, H=N.

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